Feb 8, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Tayshaun Prince (21) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors small forward Draymond Green (23) during the game at the FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (18-29) @ Memphis Grizzlies (31-18)

The Grizz are 2-3 since trading Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. That trade was seen as money-motivated, and coming on the heels of the multi-player (ok, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby, Marreese Speights and a protected future first-round pick) trade that shed 6 million off their cap and got them below the luxury tax, it’s hard not to see this as a roster of dollar signs.

The Grizz have fallen to the 5th seed in the Western Conference Playoff Standings, 1 game behind the surging (9-1 over their last 10) Denver Nuggets.

Grizzlies probable starting lineup:

PG Mike Conley

SG Tony Allen

SF Tayshaun Prince

PF Zach Randolph

C Marc Gasol

After choosing to trade Gay instead of Randolph the Grizzlies front line, though less potent offensively without Rudy, remains formidable. Prince will throw up more than his share of 3-12 and 5-12 games, but he will fit in with the rest of Memphis’ swarming perimeter defense. Conley ranks 2nd in the NBA in steals per game with 2.3, Allen is 21st with 1.6, and Memphis leads the league in points allowed with 90. Which is good because Ed Davis, Austin Daye and Prince don’t exactly light up the scoreboard.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Mickael Gelabale

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Gelabale has started the last 2 games for Andrei Kirilenko, who won’t play until after the All Star break in order to completely heal. Gelabale lost minutes to both Alexey Shved and possibly JJ Barea at small forward against the Knicks. Rubio and Ridnour were alternately on the floor with Shved and Barea as Rick Adelman increasingly has been going with a 3 guard lineup.

Pek took as many shots as I did in the 4th quarter against the Knicks Friday, as the Wolves’ lack of ball movement stuck them with long 2s and runs at the rim.

Williams shined against the small Knicks lineup, scoring 19 points on 8-17 shooting. Williams found himself alternately guarded by Jason Kidd or Raymond Felton and found he could successfully turn and shoot over them. When the Knicks brought Amar’e Stoudemire in, he showed his usual quick step, but surprised all with an extra stutter and a dribble instead of his usual awkward euro-step long stride into trouble, and got himself layups or a couple free throws. Good showing by Williams on offense. He still struggled with Carmelo Anthony, but everybody seemed to. So. Y’know. Moral victory for the whipping boy.

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Tags: Memphis Grizzlies Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Preview

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